Excessive force, dog deaths listed in suit against Parkersburg officer

By Lawrence Smith | Dec 23, 2009

PARKERSBURG - A Wood County man is suing the city of Parkersburg and one of its police officers for physical and mental injuries he suffered following an arrest last year.

The city, and Parkersburg Police Officer T.A. Davis are named in a three-count personal injury suit filed by Craig Anthony Nelson in Wood Circuit Court. In his complaint filed on Nov. 16, Nelson, 44, alleges he was not only physically injured by Davis following an arrest for public intoxication, but also emotionally when Davis, without provocation, later shot and killed his dog.

In his suit, Nelson says Davis came to his home on Cale St. in Parkersburg Nov. 16, 2008 in response to a "neighborhood dispute." Afterwards, Davis arrested him on a charge of public intoxication.

Immediately following his arrest, Nelson alleges Davis, "without provocation or just reason," shot and killed his dog. The suit does not give further specifics about the dog except it was in Nelson's front yard.

Nevertheless, Nelson alleges Davis taunted him "about killing the dog, both at the scene, en route to the police station, at the police station, and at the hospital where [he] was later taken for treatment." In order to quell his outrage over the killing of his dog, Nelson alleges Davis used excessive force to subdue him which resulted in, among other things, a head injury, and broken ribs.

According to the criminal complaints filed against him in Wood Magistrate Court, Nelson was not only charged with public intoxication, but also one charge each of possession of a controlled substance and failure to render information, and two charges of assaulting a police officer. Also, Patrolman First Class W.G.. Collins and Sgt. Giffen assisted in Nelson's arrest.

Records show after all three spoke with Nelson in his front yard, and observed him as being "unsteady on his feet with the odor of an alcoholic beverage," he was arrested by Collins for public intoxication. Upon conducting a search of Nelson, Collins found two white pills that Nelson admitted, and the pharmacy at St. Joseph's Hospital later confirmed, was Percocet.

A Schedule II narcotic containing oxycodone, and acetaminophen, Percocet is used to treat moderate to severe short-term pain.

In the course of processing him at the department headquarters, Collins alleged Nelson refused to provide him any information, and to be fingerprinted. Later, as he was being led away for further processing, Collins alleges Nelson took a swing at him.

Prior to that, Davis alleges while at Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital for evaluation, Nelson "became verbally aggressive toward [me] jumping from his seat and pushing toward [me] in an aggressive manner." In order to subdue Nelson, who by this time had jumped from his chair, Davis said he had to wrestle him to the ground, and with Collins' assistance, place him back in the chair.

Records show all charges where dismissed with prejudice on March 13 by Magistrate Emily Bradley at the request of the Wood County Prosecutor's Office.

In his suit, Nelson alleges as a result of the injuries he sustained from the arrest, and watching helplessly as his dog was shot and killed, he's suffered psychological and emotional distress, and pain and suffering. This has led him to incur, among other things, medical bills and expenses, lost income, and "diminution of the value and quality of his life."

Nelson seeks unspecified damages. He is represented by Parkersburg attorney Joseph W. McFarland Jr.

The case is assigned to Judge Robert A. Waters.

Wood Circuit Court, case number 09-C-576

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